Business

Troubled Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue hits the market

After years of notoriety and a prolonged legal battle with the Town of Southold, Vineyard 48 is for sale.

The property was listed Jan. 30 by Douglas Elliman — without an asking price.

Michael Murphy, executive vice president and head of Douglas Elliman’s commercial division in New York, said in an interview Monday evening that he’s in the “infancy” stage of marketing the property and anticipates offers of more than $6 million.

He said the property could remain a winery operation, but also could be redeveloped for a catering hall or hospitality use. 

“[The North Fork] has been such a hot market over the last two years,” he said.

The listing touts turn-key vineyard operations that include a 2,500-square-foot tasting room, 3,500-square-foot wine cellar and 2,000-square-foot retail shop. The 33-acre property comprises two separate parcels located along County Road 48 and Depot Lane in Cutchogue. Residential development rights are intact for two of the 17.4 acres on Depot Lane.

The property also features 25 acres of vines estimated to be 35 years old, according to an informational packet posted online. Grape varieties include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot and cabernet franc.

An estimated 50,000 bottles of wine currently in inventory are listed as part of the offering, along with equipment including a tractor, sprayer, wine press, tanks and French oak barrels.

“The [current] owners, they can’t do anything there,” Mr. Murphy said, acknowledging that the property comes with baggage.

The vineyard, originally developed in 1982 as Bidwell Vineyards, was sold to the Pipia family, who opened Vineyard 48, for $3.2 million in 2005.

The winery shut its doors amid an emergency suspension of its liquor license in October 2017, after it became “a focal point of police attention,” according to court documents. An SLA notice issued at the time cited a rowdy altercation when “400 disorderly, heavily intoxicated patrons were pushing, shoving and screaming at one another” and a subsequent fight involving 15 to 20 people.

For several years, neighbors complained of loud music, public urination and cases of couples having sex in plain sight.

An attorney for the vineyard owners declined comment Monday.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said a $30,000 judgement on the property — for non-payment of a settlement that resulted from town fines issued against the current owners — would need to be satisfied before a sale could be finalized.

Mr. Russell said he hopes a new owner would “run it like a real winery.”

Mr. Murphy said it’s his hope the new owner would be a satisfactory choice for everyone involved.

“It’s sensitive,” he said Monday. “We’re being very selective to make sure it would work for the seller, the community, the Town Board and everyone else in the mix.”